Hello and welcome to the Film & Media Department at Reigate College.
My name is Jon O’Hara and I’m the Course Leader for the Digital Media Production course. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the beginning of the academic year and getting started on our new Digital Media Production BTEC course.
The growth in the creative media industries has opened up a wealth of job opportunities for creative, motivated young professionals, so I’m pleased you’ve chosen to study this practical BTEC course.
To help introduce you to the course programme, I’m setting some activities for you to complete independently from home over the coming months. These tasks will give you an introduction to the skills and approach required at advanced level. I hope you enjoy the activities and look forward to sharing your work in September.
The tasks will be released here, in three phases (see table below) and should be completed by Choices Day on 1 September 2021. Please throw yourself into them and above all enjoy them!
Please note, some Course Leaders (for example for Music) may release their tasks earlier, as they may form part of the College’s audition process. If this applies to you, you’ll be notified separately.
New Starters Course Tasks and Activities
To be completed by
Explore your Subject
Explore your Subject
Analysing media texts and
developing creative ideas are an essential and exciting part of the BTEC
When you start a new subject, you need to get to grips with the terminology. Media is no different, except it is more like learning a new language. The great thing is, it’s already a language you are familiar with – the language of film. Since your first introduction to media as a child watching CBeebies or the Disney Channel, you have developed a knowledge and understanding of how film language creates emotion and meaning.
This task will begin exploring your understanding through a
key media skill, analysis.
Firstly, select two short films, preferably no longer than 5 minutes to watch and study.
Great examples include Post-It Love
(Atkinson, 2009), The Black Hole (Samson, 2008) or The Fly (Williams, 2014).
Analyse the narrative (plot and story) of the two films and write notes on your findings. Consider elements such as plot, timing, setting, characters and perspective.
Use the following questions to help you:
What happened in the narrative?
Was the narrative in chronological order or did it go back in time?
What conflict or disruption happened to create comedy or drama?
How was suspense developed?
Where was it set?
How did the setting effect the narrative?
How main characters were involved?
Through whose eyes does the story unfold?
How does the climax/resolution unfold?
Exploring your own short film
back. I hope you enjoyed analysing the two short film narratives.
For the next activity, it’s your turn to be imaginative and really let your creativity flow.
Using your knowledge of short film narrative, generate ideas
for a two to three minute short film based on the following opening:
“One night, two small people crept out of my
You can write it
in full as a short story or in note form as a mind map/doodle/set of notes.
Think about: What happens next? Who are the two small people? How did they get there? Where are they from? Are you aware these people exist? Are they friendly, nasty or scared?
Use the adventure story chart below to help you.
short film works well as a three-act structure (beginning, middle and end), or
like a joke (set-up and punchline).
the narrative simple with a small number of characters and locations.
The importance of
It’s really important to have an effective system for capturing your creative thoughts and narrative ideas, as you’re going to need them for the BTEC course. The best ideas can often spring to mind at the most unexpected moments and if you don’t record them, they can easily be forgotten. J R R Tolkien was marking exam papers when he came across a blank piece of paper in the middle of a student’s exam answer. Tolkien suddenly started to write: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
In case an idea strikes you, have somewhere to quickly write down your ideas, such as a Notes App on your phone, or the retro notebook and pencil. Set up your own system that works for you.
Creating your own
Hello Screenwriters, I hope you’ve had an inspired time creating. You should now have a fully-fledged short film idea ready for the next stage of development – writing the screenplay/script.
1. For this next activity, turn your short film idea into a two or three page film screenplay.
In media, there are different ways and formats for writing a script depending on what industry you are in. The format I want you to use for this task is the one deployed in the film industry and highlighted in the example below. Film companies are quite specific about the format. The following website is a good source of information for script formats:
In the industry, there are different types of software that will format your script for you! This means you get to focus on your creativity and writing while not having to get bogged down with remembering what goes where and messing about with a word document. One industry standard software is celtx.com, which we like to use at Reigate. It is totally free and you just need an email address to sign up.
I’m looking forward to meeting you in September. Please bring your work to your first BTEC Digital Media Production Lesson at Reigate College.
2. Extension Task
If you have time, research storyboarding techniques and
create a storyboard showing the first three shots of your film.
Jon O’Hara Course Leader – Digital Media Production